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Last week, I reviewed the last of three novels that I read based on the Thompson/Bywaters case: The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters.
The One is a science fiction story set in the near future. A pair of British researchers, Rebecca Webb and James Whiting, discovered how to use DNA to match people to their true loves. The TV series, released by Netflix in March 2021, was based on a 2016 novel of the same name by John Marrs.
The sudden ability to find “The One” has some expected and unexpected impacts on humanity, beginning with a steep rise in divorce rates — the British Parliament is worried enough to consider shutting the whole thing down. Rebecca Webb, CEO of The One company, argues that’s a temporary glitch. In the future, there will be fewer divorces because people will marry the person they are matched with.
Rick and I have had some fun in recent years exploring genealogy and the ways that DNA can help with that. So, I kind of hoped that the DNA aspect was going to be entertaining for us. It turned out that the “science” part of the science fiction was ludicrous. So, we watched this in spite of the fact that the DNA part of the story line completely failed.
The One turned out to be a British mystery of the type we’ve been seeing in recent years where a handful of episodes dig deeply into the investigation of one murder case — shows like The Tunnel and Collateral. In this case, Ben Naser’s body was discovered in the Thames. Ben Naser was Rebecca Webb’s roommate when he went missing a year ago.
Everyone who is involved in this case has some experience, positive or negative, with The One. The police detective is just getting to know her match, who lives in Spain, via video calls. A journalist who is working on a profile of Rebecca Webb refuses to take part in their matching service, but ends up in a complicated story line, anyway. Rick pointed out that The One plays with some of the same themes as Shakespeare’s play A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
For aught that ever I could read,
Could ever hear by tale or history,
The course of true love never did run smooth.
Lysander, Act 1, Scene 1
It turns out that even the ability to match with one’s true love doesn’t make things run any smoother.
I’m afraid that we mostly enjoyed hating this series. But apparently, we enjoyed that enough to keep watching. The more we watched, the more amusing ideas we had for how a matching the service like The One could fail. For one thing, the show conveniently highlighted the stories of people in their 20s and 30s matching with each other. What if you’re 20 and match with someone who is 70? Or now that there’s archeological DNA, what if you matched with someone who died 10,000 years before you were born?
Have you seen The One? What did you think?